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New skills for a new ‘post-EU’ era. How to be heard, how to be confident, how to listen

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, one of the factors for success (in life generally) is knowing “what to say to whom, when to say it and how to say it for maximum effect”. That’s communication – my passion and, I believe, our most fundamental life skill. As we embark on a new era in our country, let’s take the opportunity to sharpen up our own skills and ensure that we’re “getting what we want from the world”.  Whatever role and sector we’re in, we need to be able to negotiate, persuade, charm, and impress as never before. Let’s firstly remember that…

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The twelve gifts of Christmas communication

On the first day of Christmas I realised that preparation is the key to success On the second day of Christmas I started to eliminate those JENGA (filler) words On the third day of Christmas I recognised the power of stillness to demonstrate gravitas On the fourth day of Christmas I reminded myself not to be put off by audience members who look bored or even hostile. It’s more than likely just their concentrating demeanour On the fifth day of Christmas I learned the importance of brevity On the sixth day of Christmas it was obvious how tough and how…

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A tale of two talks – what the Prince might have learned from TED

Not long after I had vacated the TED red dot, I watched the Prince Andrew interview. It occurred to me that he could have achieved a better outcome if he’d followed the most fundamental tenet of communication: the first mantra we adopt in my training room. No interview or presentation is ‘about’ the speaker (even when the questions are centred on your judgment/sexual conduct). It’s about and for the audience. This became crystal clear to me during the preparation for my TEDx talk. Taking time at the outset to understand the audience enables you to resonate and empathise with them;…

Why is my TEDx talk so short?

8 days to go until my TEDx talk at the Open University. I’m very excited. I have 14 minutes to convince the world to join my crusade. 840 seconds to encourage people to value human to human communication as much as they value their technology. You see, I’m frightened that in our excitement about all the amazing things technology gives and promises us, we’re losing what I think is our most fundamental life skill. All around us – in homes, cars, offices, restaurants, chambers of government – two things are happening. 1. People are not listening and talking to each…

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A toxic culture in the House of Commons and beyond – three things we can all do

I’m delighted that there’s so much discussion at the moment about communication. It’s my passion and my trade, and I’ve long been worried about the tone of public and private debate. We seem to have forgotten how to ‘disagree agreeably’, as John Bercow put it after that shameful evening in the House of Commons. He talked of a toxic culture, and beseeched members to treat each other as opponents not enemies. Wise words. Let me also, with a little help from some even wiser friends, offer three simple tools we can all use to achieve more measured and civilised interactions….

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